Doctor Who: Season 16, Episode 5

The Pirate Planet: Part One (30 Sep. 1978)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Horror
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 175 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 4 critic

Continuing their quest in search of the Keys to Time. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 travel to the cold planet "Calufrax" in search of the second segment to the Key to Time. But the TARDIS ... See full summary »



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Episode complete credited cast:
Bruce Purchase ...
Andrew Robertson ...
Ralph Michael ...
David Sibley ...
David Warwick ...
Primi Townsend ...
Clive Bennett ...
Bernard Finch ...
Adam Kurakin ...
John Leeson ...
K9 (voice)


Continuing their quest in search of the Keys to Time. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 travel to the cold planet "Calufrax" in search of the second segment to the Key to Time. But the TARDIS accidentally lands on the planet Zanak, which is ruled by the robotic space pirate The Captain. Only to discover Zanak can travel across the galaxy and nobody on Zanak, isn't who they appear to be. Written by Daniel Williamson

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robot dog | See All (1) »





Release Date:

30 September 1978 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is one of the few serials in the original run of the series never to have been novelized through publisher Target Books. Target approached author Douglas Adams on several occasions, but Adams (by then a bestselling author) was unwilling to work for the modest advance Target was offering to pay; Target, for their part, were unwilling to offer Adams a higher advance, for fear that other authors would demand more. Adams also refused to allow Target to have another author adapt his story. Adams also penned "Doctor Who: City of Death: Part One (1979)" and the uncompleted serial "Shada", neither of which have been novelized for the same reasons. See more »


The Captain: A plank. The theory is very simple: You walk along it. At the end, you fall off. Drop one thousand feet... dead.
See more »


Referenced in 'Doctor Who': The Pertwee Years (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Stop It This Is Getting Very Silly
12 January 2014 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Searching for the second segment of The Key To Time the Doctor and Romana land on the Planet Calufrax where they find the oppressive regime led by the Captain are casting out a strange band of outsiders called The Mentiads . Perhaps more shocking is the fact they're not Calufrax at all

The Pirate Planet was written by Douglas Adams just before he became famous for his novel THE HITCH HIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY which gives a hint of what you might just expect from this story . It's outlandish , silly and often resembles a futuristic pantomime featuring Long John Silver . As expected Barry Purchase plays the Silver surrogate The Captain with OTT bluster and bombast which is full blown and keeping with the feel of the story . However it becomes clear that there isn't much of a story

The story itself is an unsatisfying mix of ideas and subplots . Like so many stories from the classic series the good race are non descript and bland and merely exist to suffer at the hands of the villains . It's a pity that everywhere the Tardis lands he always comes across a race called " Cypher people " who no matter what power and nuances they're given always fail to convince , usually because as seen here they're played by not very good actors who fail to make an impression on the audience . The acting is either completely uninvolving or completely OTT . In fact it's so uneven you might get seas sick watching this story . Perhaps this is why recently rewatching it I can hardly recall seeing it at all

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